‘It’s like a warm bath while eating a very lovely custard tart’: ‘Ted Lasso’ star credits the show’s Emmy success to its positivity

A picture of Jeremy Swift in 'Ted Lasso' season two.
Jeremy Swift in ‘Ted Lasso’ season two. AppleTV

Apple TV+ launched in 2019 with a whole lot of chutzpah.

Its flagship series, “The Morning Show,” was a high-budget political talkie starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston. Tween-favorite Hailee Steinfeld led the bold period drama “Dickinson,” and the streamer even managed to rope Oprah back onto our screens.

However, early reviews of the platform were tepid on the whole, and audiences seemed reluctant to invest in another streaming platform – at least until the launch of an unassuming sports comedy named “Ted Lasso.”

The British-based but US-inflicted comedy stars Jason Sudeikis (who also co-created it) as a hyper-positive college-level American football coach who is hired to manage AFC Richmond, a professional English soccer team. The series was last year’s most surprising TV revelation.

After being warmly received by critics, “Ted Lasso,” which airs weekly on the streamer, quietly rode word-of-mouth momentum to become appointment television. Sudeikis won a Golden Globe for his performance in March, and the show recently scored 20 Emmy nominations – a new record for a freshman show.

And that momentum doesn’t appear to be slowing anytime soon. “Ted Lasso” season two, which premiered on Apple TV+ Friday, has been lauded by critics and Apple already announced that a third season is in the works.

Insider recently spoke with British journeyman Jeremy Swift, who plays AFC Richmond’s disaffected director of operations, Higgins, and earned a best supporting actor nomination for the role. Following the show’s premiere in Los Angeles, Swift reflected on its Emmy nominations, the show’s steady rise, and how its positivity contrasts what he described as the proliferation of “cynical” contemporary TV comedy.

Insider: I should start by saying congratulations on the Emmy nomination!

Jeremy Swift: Thank you very much.

I think it’s just indicative of the fact that people just love the show and everything in it. I mean to have 20 nominations? I came back last night and I was just walking around my hotel room just shaking my head. I’ve been working for forty years and I’ve never had this before, you know? It’s just unbelievable. And very touching. It’s just very sort of humbling.

It’s one of those things you just work on and you think, ‘Oh, I hope that’s good. We’ve done our best.’

Why do you think the show has kicked off so much, especially with American audiences? Because it is about soccer, which is a very British/European sport.

There are a number of reasons. American audiences have a bit of a love affair with the British and with the British culture. I mean, it’s often a little bit glamorized and posh, but I think having two Americans, Jason [Sudeikis] and Brendan [Hunt], at the center of it, they act as a kind of ambassadors. And the American audience can sort of see the Brits through their eyes. I think that’s a fun, attractive thing to pull people in.

And I think as well that, you know, there have been a lot of dark, cynical comedies out there which, not to discredit them, there’s a lot of incredibly funny dark stuff out there, but I think people appreciated the positivity of this show at a dark time.

Jason Sudeikis has received a lot of praise for wearing a T-shirt in support of England’s Black football players, who were racially abused following the team’s Euro 2020 loss, at the “Ted Lasso” premiere. What did you think of Jason’s protest?

Jason Sudeikis poses at the premiere of Ted Lasso's second season
The ‘Ted Lasso’ actor showed his support for three racially abused soccer players. Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Just incredibly sound judgment. And it’s not that Jason’s not playing the game of dressing up in a tuxedo or something but ultimately, that sort of statement standing up next to your fellow human beings, saying no to racism, is much more important. You can do something in a public way.

If people like the show and they go, ‘Yeah, that guy is anti-racist and that’s a very sound judgment,’ then yeah, it’s a very positive thing. He’s a very positive person.

You have an expansive CV and have worked on a bunch of different productions. So how did you find working with Apple, a new streamer and a tech company?

I don’t know how it is for other shows, but this is the biggest show on Apple TV+. When it came along it bumped up the audience by about 28%. I think it’d probably do the same now because I know that Jeff Ingold, one of the executives on the show, told me that during the awards season earlier on in the year it bumped up another 10%. So there’s a lot of PR for this show and there’s a lot of attention and a lot of people who work to sell the show.

I’ve never done quite as many press junkets for anything before. I have been in shows but I am also sort of third billing so the focus is on me. But, you know, mostly the teams are great and very efficient. A lot of fun, really.

Jeremy Swift, Jason Sudeikis and Hannah Waddingham attend Apple's 'Ted Lasso' season two premiere at Pacific Design Center on July 15, 2021 in West Hollywood, California.
Jeremy Swift, Jason Sudeikis, and Hannah Waddingham attend Apple’s ‘Ted Lasso’ season two premiere. Emma McIntyre/WireImage

If you were to describe Ted Lasso to somebody who’s never watched before or is going to watch now because of all of the nominations, how would you describe it?

It’s like a warm bath while eating a very lovely custard tart. It’s just incredibly enjoyable. It’s just an incredibly enjoyable watch and you don’t have to work hard like, ‘Oh, what’s going on here?’ It’s very smart without patronizing you and it’s just adorable. It’s heart-meltingly adorable without being saccharine.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.